The 30 Greatest Months in Rap History

7. November 1996

Notable Events:
Makaveli's The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is released on 11/5/1996 
- Snoop Dogg Tha Doggfather is released on 11/12/1996
- Lil' Kim's Hard Core is released on 11/12/1996
- Foxy Brown's Ill Na Na is released on 11/19/1996
- DJ Shadow's Endtroducing..... is released on 11/19/1996
- Mobb Deep's Hell on Earth is released 11/19/1996
- Keith Murray's Enigma is released on 11/26/1996

Hip-hop was still grieving in November of '96 from the death of 2Pac less than two months earlier in Las Vegas. His tracks from All Eyez On Me—particularly "I Ain't Mad at Cha," released as a single two days after his death—were still in heavy rotation when singles from his second album of the year, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory began to appear. Those singles, "Toss It Up" and "To Live & Die in L.A.," were released in September, and flooded the airwaves by the time the full album dropped in November. 'Pac's record, released under the pseudonym Makaveli, debuted at No. 1 on the charts, and set the highest selling first-week sales record for that year. By the end of the decade it would be certified four times platinum.

Meanwhile, one of the groups 'Pac was beefing with around this time released their own LP only two weeks later; Mobb Deep's Hell on Earth was a paranoid, claustrophobic, and frighteningly kinetic follow-up to the group's classic The Infamous. Pac's primary musical nemesis, Biggie, had yet to release the lead single from his Life After Death LP. However, a former protege and associate of Big's named Lil Kim released her debut LP that month to strong sales. The raunchy Hard Core was the highest debuting rap album by a female artist to that point.

She wasn't the only female MC making strides in the marketplace. Foxy Brown's Ill Na Na also dropped in November '96, a celebration of The Trackmasters' clean, '80s R&B-sampling production sound. Its second single, the Rene and Angela-swiping "I'll Be," struck Billboard's top ten, becoming the biggest hit to that point for both Foxy and featured artist Jay-Z. Although sophomore records by both Snoop Dogg and Keith Murray failed to find the same commercial footing as their debuts, each has some underrated moments. Meanwhile, DJ Shadow released the instrumental hip-hop record Endtroducing...., which transformed hip-hop into particularly evocative mood music, and quickly became your favorite record store clerk's favorite hip-hop record, and one of your favorite producer's most essential. —David Drake

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